Getting up to speed

SCOTT FISHER, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:57 PM ET

SASKATOON -- Now that the euphoria has died down after Canada's dramatic New Year's Eve victory, it's time to do some soul searching.

Truth be told, Team Canada did not play well against the U.S.

Good enough to win -- this time -- but not good enough to win a gold medal.

The first period was downright awful.

The Canucks continuously turned pucks over at both bluelines and weren't prepared for the speed of the Americans' transition game.

Team Canada captain Patrice Cormier said his club will need to be better in their semifinal against either the Russians or the Swiss.

"We turned over the puck too much," Cormier said. "We have to put the puck deep and go work their D.

"The Russians are good on the transition -- and the Swiss too. We have to quit with the turnovers and play our style of hockey."

The Canadian powerplay, which had been brilliant over the first three games, was terrible.

Not only did it not generate any goals, or many chances, but it surrendered a pair of shorthanded goals.

Clearly, the American coaching staff picked up on Canada's diamond pattern, which uses one defenceman up high, and saw an opportunity.

Defenceman Ryan Ellis quarterbacks the first unit.

He said the Americans had a good gameplan.

"Our powerplay is high risk," Ellis said. "We have one guy back, which is myself. And that leaves a lot of opportunities for odd-man rushes, and I think that's what they exploited.

"They picked us apart that way. They sent two guys the other way a good majority of the time.

"That's difficult to defend on your powerplay when you're supposed to be getting chances."

While the shorthanded goals are a big concern, the lack of production is also cause for unease.

"Our puck movement wasn't there," Ellis said after Canada came up empty on six powerplays Thursday night.

"We'll be better next time. We have some video to work on."

Ellis was the first to admit he didn't have his strongest game. But he said it was just a speedbump, not a roadblock.

"I had a rough game and I think a few of the other guys did, too," he said. "For the most part, I think it was just nerves -- just got a little to nervous and tense.

"It's not like our team to do that. We usually outwork other teams but, last night, they outworked us."

Sniper Jordan Eberle, who scored twice in regulation time and again in the shootout, said it took his squad 40 minutes to get up to speed.

"We wanted to come out hard and play our game early, and we didn't do it," Eberle said. "We were turning pucks over.

"Our powerplay was going out, and we're used to scoring, but we were letting goals in. That's really deflating to the team.

"We had given up four odd-man rushes the whole tournament, and I think we had four in the first period. We were better in the second period. And after they scored in the third, we came back and figured things out."

The biggest positive that Canada took from its comeback win is it's ability to handle adversity.

"Any time you have to face adversity and you come through it, it shows the character and leadership on our team," Ellis said.

Fellow blueliner Travis Hamonic said the Canadians will be better going forward.

"That was a really good test for us," Hamonic said. "You have to see how you're going to react to adversity. We faced a lot of it in that game and I think we reacted in the best way possible.

"We're here to play and no matter what got thrown our way, we're going to keep playing hard.

"The Americans have a good team. They came at us with a lot of speed. They played us hard right to the final buzzer."


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